Poetry is a main component of the students' English curriculum. A popular poem discussed in our lessons of Asian literature is Silvery Beaches by Nu Yin. The first time I presented this lesson I had my students share any experiences they have had on the beach. Coming from Mt. Province many have not even seen the ocean, so I asked how they imagined it to be.
My jaw fell open when the first kid shouted out, "All bi*ches are dirty!"
Another argued, "No, all the bi*ches I've seen are beautiful."
My lesson in poetry quickly turned into a lesson on correctly pronouncing the word "beach."
This summer I got the opportunity to travel to the Visayas, the group of islands in the center of the Philippines. The trip was hot. It was humid. And it unfolded some of the most spectacular and stunning places I've ever seen. It's amazing how quickly everything can be forgotten starring out at the vastness of the sea. It was the perfect remedy for the stress building up around the end of school.
From Dumaguete to Siquijor to Bohol. I was on a mission to find the most beautiful beach. Why did I think it would be a challenge? Everywhere we went offered a different experience and unique atmosphere.
From Dumaguete we took a boat to Apo Island and snorkeled This island is tiny but the people were super friendly. When I think of "Island Culture" I think of Apo. Sitting around sipping on beer or a coke and watching the fishermen bring in the nets while the kids snorkel in the shallow water. The electricity comes on for only a couple of hours in the evening lighting up the coast.
|Our boat that brought us from Dumaguete to Apo Island|
and later to Siquijor.
From Dumaguete our boat made the 3 hour bumpy ride to Squijorr, an island known for it's mysticism, herbal healing and sorcery. My host mom even warned me about vampires before I left. "Make sure you don't leave a strand of hair behind or they will make a voodoo of you!"
I'm not sure where these myths and rumors began but Siquijor couldn't have been more opposite from a dark and scary place. Bordered by white sand beaches and palm trees the people seemed to be entirely happy and relaxed. The lazy roads were strewn with crushed coral, and when we made it into the mountains for the Herbal Healing Festival, we were actually disappointed that the "shamans" turned out to be more like Christian priests rubbing crucifixes around various body parts. We did see a few women selling some herbal lotions and teas, but whoa! Way out of our volunteer price range.
|San Juan, Siquijor|
|Coastal road on Siquijor Island|
|Women selling natural remedies to cure all ailments.|
After spending four glorious days on Siquijor we took a fairy to Bohol. Too cheap to pay for the fast boat, we took the budget 6 hour night trip. We had the option for Tourist Class (with AC) or regular (no AC). You can guess what we chose.
Sweat drenching our clothes and our backs sticking to the vinyl covers of our tiny bunk beds, it was not the most comfortable of trips. At one point a volunteer said she felt like we were in the third class of the Titanic.
When we arrived in Bohol things brightened back up. The island of adventure is full of activities for tourists. I was able to find yet another amazing beach in Anda. The Bohol Bee Farm served amazing organic food and I ate meals there at lest three times. We also got to visit a tarsier sanctuary and see the little creatures that Bohol is famous for. Our trip concluded with a visit to a lodge hidden away in the jungle along the Luboc River. I even got to zip line on the longest and highest zip line I've ever done, spanning the entire river gorge.
|Zip lining across the river (see above).|
It may have only been for two weeks, but that vacation was just what I needed to rejuvenate my enthusiasm at site. Of course the pictures don't do it justice and I would recommend these places (especially Siquijor) to anyone looking for a relaxing spot to unwind. I would love to go back again but know that there are many other beautiful places to explore in this country first.